The Star (Nairobi)

29 August 2014

Kenya: Firm Launches Kenya's Lates 'Green' Jiko

Residents of Meru County can now save on fuel consumption and enhance their health after introduction of new environmentally friendly firewood stove. The stove, released by a local company, incorporates advanced technology to make it highly efficient.

"The new firewood stove uses 60 per cent fuel less, produces 80 per cent less emissions and cooks 50 per cent faster thus saving on time money and energy. The new stove is good for conserving environment since it produces less emissions and helps boost health," said Andy Kumar, the product and training manager at Envirofit International, US company that has partnered with Kaluworks to distribute the stoves locally.

Kaluworks will provide nationwide distribution channels to meet the cooking needs of rural and urban households alike. Kumar was speaking in Meru Town when they introduced the stove to the residents of the town.

At least 95 percent of Kenya's rural population cooks using biomass and 15,000 Kenyans die each year due to the effects of smoke and toxic emissions, according to the Ministry of Environment.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, toxic fumes from open fires or inefficient cook stoves inside homes are responsible for some 1.8 million premature deaths -mostly women and children -each year in developing countries.

Kumar said Kenyans have embraced the improved cook stoves, which are differentiated from others because of efficiency. The stoves have been proven to be more fuel efficient through lab tests by the Colorado State University.

Assembly of the stoves is done in Nairobi and this has created more job opportunities to Kenyans, he says. Through the partnership, Envirofit and Kaluworks have participated in a nationwide clean cook stove campaign aimed at improving health and saving money for Kenya's rural residents.

"There's been overwhelming demand from customers who purchase our Lion Brand cookware products for an affordable cook stove that saves them time, money and reduces harmful smoke. We are very pleased to serve our rural customers who use firewood for cooking by making the Envirofit Econfire stove available through our retail channels," said Manu Chandaria, chairman of Kaluworks.

The initiative seeks to reach out to at least 100,000 new low-income customers by the end of 2015. Kenya has a high cookstove market but marketing is mostly done through word of mouth.

"We spent over 18 months conducting extensive consumer research and user acceptance studies to create a brand new product that met what customers wanted and most importantly at a price they can afford," said Ron Bills, CEO of Envirofit.

The Econofire stove saves families up to Sh11,000 a year, which is equivalent to the cost of three month's salary for a typical rural family, he says.

The stove reduces smoke by up to 80 percent and burns wood up to 60 percent more efficiently which in turn reduces the time women and children have to spend collecting firewood thus saving at least 3 hours every week.

The stove is made from stainless steel and had been engineered to provide robust pot support stability and safety features to meet the cooking needs of larger families. The stove is being retailed at Salpro Traders in Meru Town for between Sh2,500 to Sh3,000.

Envirofit was founded in 2003 to develop well-engineered technology solutions to solve global energy and health challenges, and in 2007 partnered with Shell Foundation to create a viable clean cook stoves business.

The company says it has has sold more than 750,000 stoves having a direct impact to over 3.5 million livelihoods across 45 countries in the world. On the other hand, Kaluworks has been in existence in the last 80 years and has dominated the Kenyan market as a cookware manufacturer.

The health and environmental damage posed by cook stoves received global attention last month with the launch of the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves.

At the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Alliance would supply 100 million homes in developing countries with cleaner stoves over the next ten years. The Alliance is a partnership between the Clinton Global Initiative, the UN Foundation and the private sector.

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